PAXINOS - The Coal Crackers Club "Octoberfest" luncheon held Wednesday at Masser's Banquet Hall brought together 218 current and former local residents for the club's final event of 2011.

Participants came from many areas in and out of Pennsylvania, enjoying the fall foliage in their travels. The fall luncheon is one of three Coal Crackers events held each year, with old friendships renewed and new friends made at events since the club's inception in 2000.

Members were welcomed to Masser's by Ann Parks, followed with a prayer by Glenn Henninger. Chris Masser and her staff then served a meal featuring pork chops and fried chicken.

Guest speaker Dave Dyer, Elysburg, presented an informative and entertaining talk about the Valley Gun and Country Club and the Pennsylvania State Sportmen's Association (PSSA) events held at the Elysburg facility each year. Dyer, who has been involved with the club and PSSA for decades, is a member of the association's hall of fame and serves as a line supervisor for events.

He said the gun club features 53 automated traps that shooters can activate with their voices, and how the club and the shoot are among the world's largest, attracting participants from Europe, Canada and more than half the United States.

Dyer told how the traps are calibrated regularly to ensure the targets are flying at 42 mph and at the correct height, and how they must land during testing within three feet of a sighting stake that's 55 yards from the launch point.

And to make a point about the caliber of shooters and their guns at PSSA events, he said the most expensive shotgun at this past summer's state event was valued at $103,000.

Dyer jogged a lot of memories with his mention of Andy Long, the late Coal Township businessman and philanthropist who helped the club grow to state and national prominence starting with his involvement in the 1930s.

And for those who wonder why the facility has "country club" in its name, Dyer said it was intended during its inception in 1923 to include a golf course.

Dyer also noted how the club and PSSA are supplied with clay targets for their shoot - 3,780,000 were used last year - by a local company, Coal Township-based White Flyer. The firm, which has three other locations, produced 280 million clay targets in 2010 at its Coal Township facility, located off Trevorton Road midway between Shamokin and Trevorton. The key material for the clay targets is supplied by another local firm, Meckley's Limestone in Mandata, Dyer noted.

He urged the Coal Crackers to stop by the club for a tour, to shoot or to see one of the premier events next year.

Many gifts donated by club coordinators were awarded to members by drawing. Joan Wallish Muskey, coordinator, thanked all members for attending, and noted the first event of 2012 will be in April at Masser's.